Dental Recruiting 101

Recruiting new employees for any business takes time and effort. You want to make sure that you are finding the right people for the jobs that you have available, and you want these new hires to fit right into the fabric of your established team. This means that you need to know how to ask the right questions to find the right people to add to your team.

Due to recent events related to the pandemic and an industry-wide lack of experienced dental hygienists, recruiting in dental practices has been tough lately. Dental recruitment challenges are an industry-wide issue many practices are experiencing. This is related to hygienist pay as well, with these important and skilled team members being paid only $41,000 a year when they have moved into a senior position.

Due to the stresses of this kind of work and the related potential for health risks due to the pandemic, the dental industry is struggling to find qualified team members to onboard. This difficulty extends to hiring dentists, but the larger concern for finding the dentist that is a good fit for your office is that there are never enough of them to go around.

These key challenges have led to an overall slowdown in many dental provider’s offices that might spell disaster when business picks up after the pandemic.

How do you recruit a dentist?

Dentist positions can be the hardest ones to fill when they come open. This is because there is always a lack of skilled dentist candidates looking for jobs, and sometimes entry-level dentists fresh out of school will not be the right fit for your practice’s needs. There are some ways to help get connected with experienced dentists, however.

One of the best ways to find a qualified dentist to fill your job opening is to use referrals from associates. Word of mouth can be a great way to get connected with the right dentist for your needs. 50% of associate hires in the US are made in this way.

One of the other ways to make sure that you get connected with the right dentist for your open position is to make the interview process open, friendly and make sure that it is conducted in the office. You want to see how this potential hire gets along with patients and other employees, as well as making sure that they seem confident and comfortable in the office environment.

Leveraging dental industry job boards can also help get you hooked up with the right recruits for your needs. These are targeted boards, and you will get to cut out some of the potential job seekers who are just not a good fit for your needs by using this method of connecting with a dentist who needs a place to land.

The Interview Process

Interview questions can tell you a lot about someone you are trying to hire. Whether you are trying to hire a dentist or a dental hygienist, you will want to ask the right questions to get a good feel for these potential new hires.

  • What are the biggest opportunities that you see in dental practices right now?
  • How do you handle challenges and conflict?
  • Who is your typical dental patient, and how do you address unique patient needs?
  • How do you handle patient concerns?
  • What is your favorite kind of work partnership?
  • How do you handle conflict with coworkers?

These questions can tell you a lot about the kind of person you are interviewing and help you assess if they will fit in with the rest of your team. You will be surprised at how much easier it is to tell who is the right fit for your team when you start asking these kinds of innovative and thought-provoking questions. Yes and no answers are not going to be helpful towards getting you connected with the right kinds of dental office employees.

Be innovative in your dental practice recruiting.

Reaching out to talented younger dentists can be a bit challenging. They live in a different kind of hiring world than generations before did, and it can be tough to connect with these younger dentists as they are exiting school. You can choose to partner with a dental school in your area, and that will help facilitate this exchange, but you will also need to leverage other means of getting connected with new dentists who are just leaving school looking for jobs.

These young dentists will have hours of shadowing under their belt, and they will be eager for the chance to finally perform consults and work alone.  You can offer training hours at elite dental schools or post on job sites and social media that you are looking for new dentists to enter your practice.

Working with these new dentists before they are eligible to take on a job inside your practice can help to show them the value of your unique practice, and it can make them feel welcome before they apply. They will also be up to speed when they start working for you, so you will not need to invest as much effort and time into training them.

While these younger dentists will not be as experienced as a dentist that has been out of school for a while, their enthusiasm and willingness to learn will make them a pleasure to add to your team. On top of that, you can help them to grow into their unique roles inside your team with ease.

What should I be paying dental practice employees?

two dental hygienists posing for camera with dental equipment

This is always one of the biggest challenges of business ownership. You need to offer competitive pay, but you need to make sure to watch your bottom line. Offering competitive pay to everyone, from your receptionist to your partner dentists, is necessary if you want to have access to the best talent in the industry.

Salary increases to keep pace with the cost of living are essential to retaining good employees. You may need to consider bonuses and other incentives to motivate your dental staff to stay on with you for the long haul.

The national average salary for dentists is $164,010 a year. For hygienists, the national average is $77,090 a year. You will need to keep these general figures in mind and make sure that you research the average salaries that are offered in your local area. You may not have to meet or beat the national average salary, but you need to recognize that employees will be motivated to leave for greener pastures if you are not offering enough pay for their level of skill and experience.

Signs that it’s time to hire someone new.

No matter how many years you are the owner of a dental business, you will never be able to prevent the unfortunate situations that lead to employee termination. There are many reasons that you might need to let someone go and replace them with a person who is freshly out of school or who is eager for the opportunity to work in your office.

Some common reasons for employee termination are:

  • Sloppy work
  • Incorrect diagnosis
  • Improper bedside manner
  • Consistently late or absent
  • Patient complaints
  • Only interested in making more money leading to too many patients seen in a day
  • Rude to customers
  • Lack of proper record keeping
  • Not keeping up licenses and legal requirements to practice
  • Attempting to negotiate for higher pay or better benefits at inappropriate times
  • Causing trouble with other employees or having personal issues with patients

All of these issues can be the cause for termination. It is important to remember that you are providing a service to your patients, and you need to be sure that your team is willing and able to take care of the health of their patients first and foremost.

Personal issues or on-the-job training issues should not impact patient care whenever possible. If an employee is causing strife and chaos, the quality of their patient care will suffer along with their lack of attention to their job.

Hiring in a dental practice requires skill and attention to detail.

a dental office full of patients and dentists working

Hiring the right people to work in your dental business requires the development of a careful interview process and the willingness to wait to hire until you have found the right employee for the job. Onboarding the first person who applies for your open positions will only lead to problems down the road unless you get very lucky.

If you take the time to develop the precise hiring process and you look for employees through the proper channels, you will have far more success getting connected with the right dental employees for your open job postings.  There is no trade for patience when you are seeking a new dentist or a new hygienist.

Hiring the right people for your dental practice is directly related to your overall business success and increased ROI. For more tips and tricks to help you run a successful business and marketing campaigns, check out all of the great information available on our site! 

Bryan Oram
Bryan Oram AVP of Healthcare Enterprise Sales

Bryan Oram is a Healthcare professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects healthcare businesses with their patients.

Adapt the way you do business. Press send.